Monday, December 11, 2023

Transport union demands BR inquiry report

The Botswana Transport and General Workers Union (BTGWU) has written to the Minister of Transport and Communications Thulagano Segokgo demanding a copy of the Botswana Railways Train Accident Inquiry Report.

In the letter dated 10th September 2020, the union’s secretary general, Thapelo Motube Molefe states that “The Botswana Transport and General Workers Union (BTGWU) is hereby kindly requesting a copy of the report of the public inquiry into the December 2019 Botswana Railways (BR) train accident.”

He stated further that BTGWU besides being a trade union with vested interest in Botswana Railways is keenly interested in the outcome of the investigation because the accident claimed the lives of its two members.

Relatively, the union said, it is particularly important “to know the recommendations of the report before both the Chief Executive Officer of Botswana Railways and the Director Business Development (in whose period stewardship the accident occurred) leave the organisation shortly as we are informed.”

The report follows a fatal incident in which a Botswana Railways Express train en-route from Gaborone to Francistown derailed last year at a flooded area near Botswanapitse and killed two crew members on board.

The Telegraph has it on good authority that the union is pushing for the prosecution of those implicated in the public inquiry report.

An exchange of correspondence between the union and management before the accident shows that it could have possible been avoided.

In one of the letters addressed to the management, the union had revealed that “Botswana Railways safety system is found wanting with consequential irregularities occurring in the organisation.”

Another letter also shows that the union had recommended that “safety systems be reviewed with the aim of revamping it and train crews be provided with safety equipment; radios, airbrake gauges and telemeters etc. and Botswana Railways should big bigger culverts at all prone flooding areas along the railway line to minimise wash-aways during the raining season.”  

Replying to one of the letters, the Chief Executive of Botswana Railways Leonard Makwinja promised his organisation “would review the safety system and provide the train crew with safety equipment such as radios, airbrake gauges and telemeters.”

Makwinja, who is leaving the organisation sometime this year, also promised that Botswana Railways would construct bigger culverts in flood prone areas. “It also emerges from the correspondences that at one stage the union also petitioned that Director of Labour requesting the department to “carry out an occupational health and safety inspection of Botswana Railways.”


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